SALT LAKE CITY – Ten million dollars, plus punitive damages. That’s what attorneys are asking for in their lawsuit against a Utah eye doctor who they claim was performing surgeries without a license. They also claim the doctor targeted undocumented immigrants who may be too afraid to talk to investigators.
Attorneys for the plaintiff in this case, Robert Arias, say he visited Dr. Paul Wade Wyatt for cataract surgery at the end of last year. He had tried to sign up for the surgery at a local clinic, but, he would have had to wait between one to two years to have it done, there. Plus, Wyatt was reportedly offering to do the same service for a fraction of what other doctors were charging.
However, Arias’ attorney, Dustin Lance, says, “The surgery that he performed has been described by some of the follow-up doctors as being a ‘third-world surgery’ that isn’t even performed in the United States any more.”
Lance claims Wyatt botched the first procedure, and his client had a wide range of problems after that.
“He put the wrong lens in [my client’s] eye. Then, there was another surgery to remove the incorrect lens. Then, there was another surgery to place the correct lens. Then, there was another surgery to attempt to address the problems,” Lance says.
Now, Arias is blind in his right eye, and he can’t work as a laborer the way he needs to. Lance says it’s possible Arias may have to lose his eyeball, completely.
Even though the lawsuit is asking for $10 million, Lance is doubtful they will get it. He says their main goal is to get Wyatt to stop. They claim the doctor has lost his license in Utah, Wyoming and Minnesota. Earlier this year, state records show Wyatt surrendered his license in Utah due to violating his probationary license by performing surgical procedures.
Attorneys believe Wyatt has more possible victims, however, these victims may be undocumented and too afraid to come forward. Immigration attorney Ysabel Lonazco is trying to convince them not to be. “There are immigration remedies for you if you have been a victim of these type of surgeries by Dr. Wyatt,” she says.
Lonazco says the “U Visa” was specifically designed for people who are willing to help law enforcement as they investigate other crimes.
She says, “It’s a victim visa, allowing them to remain in the country, legally, then adjust their status for legal residence in the United States.”
Both KSL and The Deseret News have made calls to Wyatt’s office in Utah, but those calls haven’t been returned. In 2016, a GoFundMe account was set up for Wyatt, saying he and his family were the victims of “a clever campaign of lies and deceit” and that his competition convinced a medical board in Wyoming to pull his license.